The Crusader Newspaper Group

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. During the month and throughout the year, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard A. Carter encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making our county a better, safer place for children and families. Even one child abuse case in our community is one too many.

Nationwide, about 700,000 children are abused or neglected per year. Indiana recorded 50 child fatalities as a result of abuse or neglect in 2020 according to Indiana’s Department of Child Services.

The key to protecting children in our community is twofold. By educating parents and empowering community members to know the warning signs of child abuse, and ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help prevent child abuse and neglect in the future.

Factors to help prevent child abuse are:

• Nurturing and attachment (Children need to know they are loved)

• Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development (Parenting is hard, especially if you don’t know what realistic expectations are for children based on their age)

• Parental resilience (Know when to put down a screaming child and take 5 minutes to collect yourself )

• Avoid abusing alcohol or using drugs (Almost all of the 50 fatalities in 2020 involved alcohol or drug use)

• Concrete supports for parents (Be an available outlet/mentor for parents, especially those with young children)

As a community, it is important for all of us to be on the lookout for signs that children may be victims of abuse and speak up to help them. “Child abuse has an immense adverse impact on victims with life-long consequences well into adulthood,” Prosecutor Carter said. “It is an important issue that deserves resources geared toward prevention and treatment,” continued Carter.

Child abuse may include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, or failure to provide necessary food or clothing to children.

Some of the signs of child abuse are:

• Physical injuries that are unexplained, or self-harm
• Depression, anxiety, unusual fears
• Fear of a certain adult or location                                                                                 • Sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, school performance and/or behavior (aggression, hostility, anger, etc.)                                                                                   • Inappropriate sexual behavior or language                                                                   • Frequent absences from school

“In our office, we are committed to working with law enforcement to prosecute individuals charged with child abuse in any form,” said Carter. “If you suspect child abuse is occurring in your respective community and/or neighborhood, please report it,” concluded Carter.

If you believe that a child is being abused, make a report by calling Indiana’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-800-5556 (available 24/7). It’s up to all of us in our community and individual neighborhoods to ensure that the children who represent our future grow up safe, healthy and free from abuse.

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